The Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust (RPMT) in Brighton has received a £390,000 grant from the James Henry Green Trust to increase diversity and improve equality across the organisation.
The grant is for a three-year Culture Change RPMT project, which aims to make the trust more socially engaged and progressive. The money will support the appointment of two new staff members including a diversity manager and help create an oversight group to provide “scrutiny and accountability”. A staff working group will also be set up.
As part of the project, the museums trust intends to review its interpretation labels and panels, and its object displays. The histories of the building and collections will also be researched so it can reflect on the legacies.
Other aims include: organisation-wide training; research into how to connect with individuals, organisations, community groups and schools; and a review of policies and practices to ensure they reflect its anti-racist and socially just ethos.
“Our new project Culture Change RPMT is an important opportunity at a key moment in our history to ensure we are equitable and socially engaged in everything we do and that we are truly working with and listening to all voices from the different communities we are here to serve,” said Hedley Swain, the trust's chief executive officer.
“Following the Black Lives Matter movement, we have been keen to take a long look at our organisation and challenge how we work.”
Swain said that the work follows on from its statement made in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in 2020 to make changes to how it tells the histories of Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.
“In the past, working collaboratively with a range of partners and communities has been undertaken on a project-by-project basis, by different departments and individuals,” Swain added. “Culture Change RPMT will, for the first time, draw together all our staff, our buildings and collections, our resources, our communities and strategic partners to promote holistic organisational change.
“In some cases this process will be difficult but we are completely committed to its delivery. We are incredibly grateful to the James Henry Green Trust and its trustees for supporting us in this way. It would be very difficult to undertake this work without them in partnership.”
James Henry Green (1893-1975) was a recruiting officer for the Indian Army whose collection of photographs and textiles from his time in Myanmar (formerly Burma) were given to Brighton museums on long-term loan in 1992, along with an annual endowment for its research and development.
The chair of the James Henry Green Trust, Michael Hitchcock, says: “We fully support the Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust in its laudable aims and objectives and have long held the view that Brighton Museum and Art Gallery has been a leader in creating change in the UK’s museum sector through its engagement with different cultures at home and abroad.
“The museum has a reputation for innovation and creativity and it is a great pleasure to be able to support this latest endeavour.”
The Booth Museum reopens this weekend – the last of the trust's five venues to welcome back visitors following the most recent Covid lockdown.